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TimR
10-31-2016, 04:32 PM
"Worse than that, even," said Bernhard, tilting his head in the direction of the outraged mother. She was talking to a museum docent, and pointing at Bernhard and Lena. "Looks like we're going to get a stern talking to."
The docent was coming towards them now, a broad phony smile on her face.
"Hel-lohhh, there," she said in a fake sing-songy way that annoyed Bernhard and Lena. Both thought about blowing smoke in the docent's face, but managed to restrain themselves.
"We want everyone to enjoy the exhibit," said the docent. "It sounded like you might have some, er, questions that I could help you with...?"
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"Yeah," said Bernhard. "I got a question: Who comes up with this malarkey?"
"B-but, sir!" the docent stuttered, recoiling a bit. "Don't you understand? This is science! We are simply presenting... the results... of the, er, top men in the field of paleontology."
Bernhard chuckled his nastiest chuckle and took a leisurely drag on his cigarette. It was pleasant watching this lady stooge flounder a bit. The small audience of bystanders forming around them made it even more delicious.
The docent was beginning to find the silence unbearable.
"Why, uh... like Barnum Brown, for instance," she went on. "Or 'Mr. Bones' as he is known affectionately. He is one of our very top men. It was his good fortune to discover the T. Rex, you know."
"That the one with the little stub arms?" said Bernhard. "Not very convincing. I like that name though: 'Barnum.' Kind of gives the game away right there now, don't it?"
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"'Game'?" said the docent. "What 'game'?"
"Like the showman," said Bernhard. "Good ol' P.T. ... Purveyor of bunk... blarney... and bogosity."
"Sir, I really do not think you are expert enough to determine---" the docent said, searching for some conclusive way to end the conversation.
"I happen to know that your 'Barnum Brown' (and his bogus name) is an intelligence asset," said Bernhard. (In fact Bernhard was bluffing: he only guessed that Brown might be an asset.) "That being the case, how do I know all these 'fossils' aren't just casts taken from various ordinary creatures, perhaps with a horn or claws added here and there in Sculpey?"
A great number of children were crying now. Lena chuckled nastily and took a drag. It would almost be worth getting busted by that plain-clothes dick, if it meant getting to see this show.
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"Plus the weight distribution," said Bernhard. "Most of these things would have had some serious lower back issues."
"Perhaps that's why they went extinct!" said the docent triumphantly.
"The only stink is the stench of your lies and misinformation," said Bernhard.
The docent gasped. Bernhard and Lena chuckled as she turned away from them with a look of pert resignation.
"Children," she said, "I want you to shield your ears from all this nonsense. There will always be those who spew hate-filled ignorance. We must learn to separate out the good, reliable sources from the bad and untrustworthy ones."
The crowd began drifting away. Bernhard caught a glare from one of the mothers though.
"What?" he said. "We're doing it a favor. It needs to know the truth."
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Bernhard and Lena left the Museum and walked to a cafe. They used their ill-gotten gains to buy Reuben sandwiches and Earl Grey tea.
"Say," said Bernhard, as they sat sipping tea. "An idea has occurred to me."
"Yeah? Whaddaya got? Ya big dummy," said Lena.
"This line of work we're in is strictly small-time. I want a big score. Something that will set us up for a long while. Maybe even give us status, prestige."
"That docent was right about you after all," said Lena. "You're a spewer of bilge-water and nonsense."
"I never even had a bilge," said Bernhard. "Anyway, my point is this: I want in on the Dino Racket."
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